Once upon a time, Honeymoon Island was known as Hog Island and was owned by a pig farmer. Then a hurricane flooded the land and cut the channel known as Hurricane Pass. The former southern half of the island was renamed Caladesi and the former northern half was developed as a getaway for newlyweds. Honeymoon Island was born. It later became a state park. It is accessed by causeway.
The north of Honeymoon Island is split, forming Pelican Cove between the east and west arms. I first explored the eastern arm, which faces the mainland. I saw several nests in the trees. Ospreys and vultures were all over the place. There were even bald eagles. From October until May that section of the trail is closed so as not to disturb them. I also saw a moth sitting in a bush. It had an iridescent, hairy back that reminded me of a hummingbird.
Returning to the playground parking lot to eat, I saw a tortoise. So did the playground kids. They got enormous pleasure from watching it eat the grass, and I watched them watch it. When I finished, I headed for the west side of the island and walked north along the beach.
I could not find a high tide line and judging by the shells and seaweed strewn everywhere, I suspect that the entire western arm is submerged on a daily basis. The sand was moist and large gulleys led into Pelican cove from among the mangroves. I planned on hiking to the northern tip and back, but I found much to distract me and eventually ran out of sunlight. There was a path part of the way between two groves of trees and numerous doorways cut into them leading to some stunningly beautiful places...
The water smelled like eggs. The mud came in hues of purple and green. The nearly bare trees, lack of undergrowth, and bright white sand reminded me very much of a snowy forest up north. It was exciting to find these secluded places that I had to share with no one but a few ibises.
Shells also distracted me. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such variety before. There were some that were quite large and most were unbroken. Many had barnacle shells stuck to them. Some were full of holes. I’m used to seeing holes in shells but usually it’s just one or two. The colors were mind-boggling. It doesn’t take much to boggle my mind, I guess. The photographs barely capture what my eyes saw in direct sunlight. There was a black pen shell with green and purple shine – like oil floating on water. There was a shell boring white on the outside and brilliant purple inside. I like to leave most shells behind for others to find, but this one was too good not to take home and show everybody I knew. Unfortunately, at home it became an ordinary shell. I am used to shells looking different when dry and under artificial light, but I have never seen this great of a difference!
There were also thousands of squishy, pea-sized objects everywhere. I thought at the time that they were seaweed floatation bladders that had broken off, since I sometimes found them among the seaweed, but now I’m not so sure. Do you know what they are?
Eventually the sun went down and I had to leave the beach before I had finished exploring. I might have to return someday. I was disappointed that I had encountered no rattlesnakes, which the park signs had promised/ warned me about. Passing through the playground back to my car I did see an armadillo digging up the lawn. Here are some other things I saw:
Honeymoon Island State Park,
1 Causeway Boulevard, Dunedin, Florida
Written by Daniel Noe, WayOutLife.com
LOCAL TAMPA BAY